Banned in Russia, film rights sold to director Ridley Scott and with the shortest odds ever quoted by a bookmaker for a book to win a literary award, Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith made it onto the shortlist for the inaugural Desmond Elliott Prize, announced on Thursday 22 May 2008.
It was joined on the shortlist by equally notable first novels:
- Gifted by Nikita Lalwani (Viking)
- Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (Simon & Schuster)
- Sunday at The Cross Bones by John Walsh (Fourth Estate)
Each of the books on The Desmond Elliott Prize 2008 shortlist reflected the purpose of the prize: to highlight first novels which are page-turners with strong word of mouth appeal.
Penny Vincenzi, Chair of the Judges, commented,
“We are thrilled with this – the first ever Desmond Elliott Prize shortlist! These three books pushed all our judging ‘buttons’ – they are true page turners, they are all intelligent and thought-provoking, and they cover a very broad range. And all three have that crucial quality for a successful book, word-of-mouth appeal; we really feel that anyone reading them would talk about and recommend them. And we felt sure–and this was important to us–that Desmond would have approved of them. There is something for everyone who loves a good read: we have the charmingly tender narrative of Gifted by Nikita Lalwani; a riveting and suspense filled thriller in the tradition of a young John Le Carré in Child 44 and John Walsh on characteristically splendid – and witty – form in Sunday at The Cross Bones. We battled over the difficult decision on which books should be shortlisted and I’m sure the winner decision will be torturous!”